Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire

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His Grace
the Duke of Devonshire
GG Duke of Devonshire.jpg
11th Governor General of Canada
In office
11 November 1916 – 2 August 1921
Monarch George V
Prime Minister Canadian
 • Robert Borden
 • Arthur Meighen
 • H. H. Asquith
 • David Lloyd George
Preceded by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Succeeded by The Lord Byng of Vimy
Personal details
Born (1868-05-31)31 May 1868
Marylebone, London
Died 6 May 1938(1938-05-06) (aged 69)
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England
Political party Liberal Unionist
Spouse(s) Evelyn Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Profession Politician

Victor Christian William Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire KG GCMG GCVO TD PC JP FRS[1] (31 May 1868 – 6 May 1938), known as Victor Cavendish until 1908, was a British politician who served as Governor General of Canada, the 11th since Canadian Confederation.

Cavendish was born the eldest son of a noble family in London, and educated at Eton College and the University of Cambridge. After the death of his father in 1891, he entered politics, winning his father's riding unopposed. He held that seat until he inherited his uncle's dukedom in 1908. Thereafter, he took his place in the House of Lords, while, for a period at the same time, acting as mayor of Eastbourne and Chesterfield. He held various government posts both prior to and after his rise to the peerage. In 1916 he was appointed governor general by King George V, on the recommendation of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, to replace Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, as viceroy. He occupied that post until succeeded by Lord Byng of Vimy in 1921. The appointment was initially controversial but, by the time of his return to England, the Duke had earned praise for the way in which he carried out his official duties.

Following his tenure as the Canadian viceroy, he returned to political and diplomatic life, serving as Secretary of State for the Colonies between 1922 and 1924, before retiring to his estate in Derbyshire, where he died on 6 May 1938.

Early life, education, military career, and family

Cavendish was born in the Marylebone area of London, England, as the eldest son of Lord Edward Cavendish, himself the third son of the seventh Duke of Devonshire, and Emma Lascelles, both the daughter of William Lascelles and Lord Edward's cousin. Cavendish's younger brother was Lord Richard Cavendish and his uncles were Spencer Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington (later the eighth Duke of Devonshire) and Lord Frederick Cavendish.

Cavendish was educated at Eton College before being admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, on 30 May 1887,[2] where he served as secretary of the Pitt Club.[3] During his years at Cambridge, Cavendish served part-time with the Derbyshire Yeomanry, into which he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1890.[4] He was promoted Major in September 1901[5] and retired from the Yeomanry in 1911.[6]

On 30 July 1892, Cavendish married Lady Evelyn FitzMaurice, the eldest daughter of the Marquess of Lansdowne, Viceroy of India and quondam Governor General of Canada.[7] The couple thereafter had seven children: Edward, Marquess of Hartington (born 1895), Lady Maud Louisa Emma (born 1896), Lady Blanche Katharine (born 1898), Lady Dorothy (born 1900), Lady Rachel (born 1902), Lord Charles Arthur Francis (born 1905), and Lady Anne (born 1909). Through his children's eventual marriages, Cavendish became the father-in-law of Henry Philip Hunloke, James Stuart, Harold Macmillan, and Adele Astaire.

Chatsworth House, which Cavendish inherited upon acceding to the Dukedom of Devonshire in 1908

Political career

In May 1891, shortly before Cavendish graduated from Cambridge, his father, who sat as the Member of Parliament for West Derbyshire, died and Cavendish entered the race for that parliamentary seat and won it, thus becoming the youngest member of the British House of Commons at the time.[8]

For seventeen years Cavendish held parliamentary positions. Between 1900 and 1903, he acted as Treasurer of the Household, from 1903 to 1905 as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and on 11 December 1905 he was sworn of the Privy Council.[9] In 1907, he was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Derbyshire[10] and, from 1908, acted as Honorary Colonel of the 5th (Territorial Army) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters.[11]

When he succeeded to his uncle's dukedom on 24 March 1908, Devonshire, as he was thereafter known, was disqualified from holding his seat in the commons, as he now held a place in the House of Lords. The same year, Devonshire was appointed as Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire and the year following was made Chancellor of the University of Leeds. He was then elected to two mayoral offices: first to that of Eastbourne, between 1909 and 1910, and then Chesterfield, from 1911 to 1912. In the House of Lords, Devonshire served as Conservative Chief Whip from 1911[12] and, after the Conservatives joined the government during the First World War, as joint Government Chief Whip in the upper chamber,[13] holding office as Civil Lord of the Admiralty.[14] Following the war, he became Honorary Colonel and Commandant of the Derbyshire Volunteer Regiment of the Volunteer Training Corps in 1918.[11]

Governor General of Canada

It was announced on 8 August 1916 that King George V had, by commission under the royal sign-manual and signet, approved the recommendation of his British Prime Minister, H.H. Asquith, to appoint Devonshire as his representative in Canada. The appointment caused political problems as Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden had not been consulted on the matter, contrary to practice well established by that time. Borden thus felt insulted, which led to considerable difficulties at the beginning of Devonshire's tenure, officially beginning after he was sworn in on 11 November 1916 during a ceremony held in Halifax.[7]

In that era, there was social unrest in the country. Not only was the women's suffrage movement gaining momentum in Canada and calls were coming out of the prairies for socialist changes to the governmental system, but war continued to rage around the world. Canada was providing troops and supplies, and shortly after his installation, acting on the advice of Borden, Devonshire introduced conscription, a decision that was particularly divisive between French and English Canadians and sparked the Conscription Crisis of 1917. In the same year, the Governor General also travelled to Nova Scotia to survey the damage caused by the Halifax Explosion on 6 December; there he met with survivors and addressed the women of the Voluntary Aid Detachment.[15]

The Canadian victory in 1917 at Vimy Ridge, however, helped fuel Canadian pride and nationalism at home and the Governor General, while conscious of his role's remaining connection to the British government, used this victory to positively and publicly encourage reconciliation between Canada's two main linguistic groups. At all times, Devonshire was careful to consult with his prime minister and the leaders of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition in Canada on matters related to conscription and the war effort.[7]

Devonshire took an active interest in the lives of Canadians, and conducted various tours of the country to meet with them. As a land owner himself, the Governor General was particularly focused on the development of farming in Canada and during his travels,[8] at agricultural and horticultural fairs, shows, and sugaring-off parties in the Gatineau, he discussed agricultural issues with farmers and other people in the industry. His speeches often referred to Canada's potential to lead the world in agricultural research and development, and one of his major projects while viceroy was to establish experimental farms, including the Crown's central one in Ottawa. At the same time, Devonshire acted as a patron of the arts; when not on tour or residing at La Citadelle— the viceregal residence in Quebec City at which the Duke enjoyed spending time— he frequently visited the National Gallery and hosted theatrical performances at Rideau Hall. There, on the grounds of the royal residence, during the winters, the Devonshires also hosted tobogganing and skating parties, as well as hockey matches. Officially, in 1918 Devonshire travelled to the United States to meet President Woodrow Wilson informally, and the following year, he was host to Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, during his first tour of Canada.[7]

By the end of his tenure as governor general, Devonshire had overcome all of the initial suspicions that had surrounded his appointment; both men who served as his Canadian prime minister—Borden and Arthur Meighen—came to view him as a personal friend not only of theirs, but also of Canada's. The former said of Devonshire: "No Governor General has come with a more comprehensive grasp of public questions as they touch not only this country and the United Kingdom, but the whole Empire."[7] The Duke left as a mark of his time in Canada the Devonshire Cup, for the annual golf competition of the Canadian Seniors Golf Association,[16] and the Duke of Devonshire Trophy, for the Ottawa Horticultural Society. While in Canada, Devonshire's two aides-de-camp married his daughters.

Post-viceregal life

St Peter's Churchyard, Edensor - grave of Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire KG, GCMG, GCVO, TD, PC (1868–1938)

On returning to England, Devonshire worked at the League of Nations before serving from 1922 to 1924 as Secretary of State for the Colonies (with a seat in the British Cabinet) under Prime Ministers Andrew Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin.[17] In 1922, he was also appointed by King George V to the committee that was charged with looking into how honours were to be bestowed in the United Kingdom.[18] From 1933 until his death he was Honorary Colonel of the 24 (Derbyshire Yeomanry) Armoured Car Company, Royal Tank Regiment, in the Territorial Army.[19] He simultaneously continued to run his agricultural land holdings, especially around Chatsworth House, where he died in May 1938.

Titles, styles, and honours


Viceregal styles of
The Duke of Devonshire
Reference style His Grace
Sa Grâce
Spoken style Your Grace
Votre Grâce
Alternative style Sir
  • 3 May 1868 – 8 September 1881: Mister Victor Cavendish
  • 8 September 1881 – 11 December 1905: Victor Cavendish, Esquire
  • 11 December 1905 – 24 March 1908: The Right Honourable Victor Cavendish
  • 24 March 1908 – 11 November 1916: His Grace the Duke of Devonshire
  • 11 November 1916 – 19 September 1918: His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of the Militia and Naval Forces of Canada
  • 19 September 1918 – 2 August 1921: His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of the Militia and Naval and Air Forces of Canada
  • 2 August 1921 – 6 May 1938: His Grace the Duke of Devonshire


Ribbon bars of the Duke of Devonshire

Honorary military appointments

Honorary degrees

Honorific eponyms

Geographic locations


See also


  1. Whiddington, R. (1939). "Victor Christian William Cavendish, the Duke of Devonshire. 1868-1938". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 2 (7): 557–526. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1939.0016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Cavendish, Victor Christian William (CVNS887VC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Fletcher, Walter Morley (2011) [1935]. The University Pitt Club: 1835-1935 (First Paperback ed.). Cambridge isbn=978-1-107-60006-5: Cambridge University Press. p. 92. Missing pipe in: |location= (help)CS1 maint: location (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1895. Kelly's. 1895. p. 249.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. The London Gazette: no. 27362. p. 6491. 4 October 1901.
  6. Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1913. Kelly's. p. 616.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Governor General > Former Governors General > The Duke of Devonshire". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2009. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Hillmer, Norman, "The Canadian Encyclopedia", in Marsh, James Harley (ed.), Biography > Governors General of Canada > Devonshire, Victor Christian William Cavendish, 9th Duke of, Toronto: Historica Foundation of Canada, retrieved 28 April 2009<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. The London Gazette: no. 27862. p. 8892. 8 December 1905. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  10. The London Gazette: no. 28018. p. 2999. 3 May 1907.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1920, p. 498
  12. David Butler and Gareth Butler, Twentieth Century British Political Facts 1900-2000 (Macmillan 2000) p. 69.
  13. Butler and Butler (2000) p. 139.
  14. The London Gazette: no. 29651. p. 6596. 4 July 1916. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  15. "Library and Archives Canada > MIKAN no. 3623771". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 27 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Barclay, James A. (1992). Golf in Canada: A History. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. p. 456. ISBN 978-0-7710-1080-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. The London Gazette: no. 32982. p. 7430. 14 October 1924. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  18. The London Gazette: no. 32749. p. 6767. 22 September 1922. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  19. Kelly's Handbook of Distinguished People, 1938. Kelly's. p. 588.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. The London Gazette: no. 28639. p. 6371. 27 August 1912. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  21. The London Gazette: no. 29687. p. 7477. 28 July 1916. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
  22. The London Gazette: no. 29711. p. 8150. 18 August 1916.
  23. The London Gazette: no. 30402. p. 12354. 27 November 1917.
  24. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29423. p. 79. 1 January 1916.
  25. The London Gazette: no. 32803. p. 1823. 6 March 1923.
  26. "University of Alberta Senate > Honorary Degrees > Past Honorary Degree Recipients > C". University of Alberta. Retrieved 28 April 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Governor General of Canada
Succeeded by
The Lord Byng of Vimy
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl Howe
Treasurer of the Household
Succeeded by
Marquess of Hamilton
Preceded by
Arthur Elliot
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Reginald McKenna
Preceded by
George Lambert
Civil Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
The Earl of Lytton
Preceded by
The Lord Colebrooke
Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords
With: The Lord Colebrooke
Succeeded by
The Lord Colebrooke
The Lord Hylton
Preceded by
Winston Churchill
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
James Henry Thomas
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lord Edward Cavendish
Member of Parliament for West Derbyshire
Succeeded by
Earl of Kerry
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Earl Waldegrave
Conservative Chief Whip in the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Lord Hylton
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of Ripon
Chancellor of the University of Leeds
Succeeded by
The 10th Duke of Devonshire
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The 8th Duke of Devonshire
Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire
Succeeded by
The 10th Duke of Devonshire
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Spencer Cavendish
Duke of Devonshire
Succeeded by
Edward Cavendish